When you drink and then drive, the volume of alcohol that is absorbed into your bloodstream and the overall timing of that absorption into the blood are the critical factors in causing impairment in your driving and determining your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level if you are tested for intoxication. Some of the key factors governing alcohol absorption into, distribution in, and elimination from your bloodstream are important for you to know and are outlined below.
Generally speaking, during the alcohol absorption phase,your bloodstream will show an increase in BAC, or in the concentration of alcohol in the blood, over time. Your BAC level rises to a peak before it declines again. Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys well know that the alcohol absorption phase occurs at a variable rate. Several factors cause this variation in your alcohol absorption rate and include:
Your BAC will continue to rise so long as the amount of alcohol entering the bloodstream from your digestive tract is greater than the amount that the liver can process and eliminate through oxidation.
If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, your BAC test will occur at some point after the initial stop. Chicago DUI Lawyers realize that the time between your stop and your BAC test could vary from a matter of minutes to an hour or more depending upon the circumstances. If you are in the rising blood alcohol (alcohol absorption) phase at the time of your BAC test,your test could show a higher BAC level than you actually had at the time that you were driving. This could be especially significant if your BAC test results are at the legal limit or only slightly above it, and may allow your Chicago DUI Lawyer to challenge the results of your test under the Rising Alcohol Defense.
In addition, if your BAC level is peaking at the time of your BAC test, your test results might also show a BAC level higher than that at the time you were actually driving. In such cases, you should always be sure to consult a qualified Illinois DUI Defense Attorney to determine whether a Rising Alcohol Defense would be beneficial to your case.
Although many people find that in minor amounts, alcohol may enhance a person's enjoyment of a social gathering or a meal, alcohol is actually classified as a depressant. This means that it depresses (or impairs)a person's physical reaction times and mental acuity as well as your emotional state. Chicago DUI Lawyers know that this is why a person with a sufficient concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream cannot drive safely or react properly to traffic and traffic signals along the road. The level at which you are legally too impaired to drive is at a BAC of 0.08%, but some individuals may actually become too impaired to safely drive at a lower BAC.
Alcohol that you have drunk does not affect your brain and body to impair you until it has been absorbed into your bloodstream and distributed throughout your body. Once alcohol has been absorbed into the blood, the pulmonary system and systemic blood circulation carries the alcohol throughout the body. Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys understand that once ingested, the alcohol in your bloodstream will continue to circulate throughout your body until metabolized or excreted. Until your liver can cleanse and eliminate the alcohol from your blood, you will remain under its depressant affects.
Various factors affect the rate at which the liver can take the alcohol out of circulation, including how long and how much alcohol you continue to ingest, how many other toxins your liver is coping with at the time, and your overall state of health. Because of these and other factors, a Chicago DUI Lawyer will caution you that your BAC will generally not demonstrate a smooth rise up to a peak followed by a smooth decline, but rather a fluctuating rise and fall over time.
Alcohol can be absorbed into the bloodstream from any point in the digestive tract: from the mouth, the stomach, the intestine, the bladder, and the rectum. Practically speaking though, about 25% of the alcohol will be absorbed into the blood from the stomach with the remainder being absorbed from the small intestine. If the BAC in the bladder is higher than that of the blood, some alcohol might be absorbed from the bladder into the blood.
Generally, no more than 10% of what you have ingested will be absorbed out of your bladder, and usually far less. A very small amount of alcohol might enter the bloodstream directly from the mouth, through the veins in the cheek tissue. This will occur within about 15 minutes after having a drink, but generally represents a minuscule amount of alcohol.
When the amount of alcohol that enters the blood equals the amount that the liver can process, you will reach your peak BAC, the maximum concentration of alcohol in your blood. After this point, the concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream will begin to drop. Again, the rising blood alcohol(absorption) and decreasing blood alcohol (elimination) phases only represent trends, not steady progressions. Studies have shown that your BAC level may fluctuate slightly up and down during both phases.
If you are stopped for DUI, but your BAC test occurs when you are in the alcohol elimination phase, your BAC test results may show a BAC level that is actually lower than when you were behind the wheel. This Chicago DUI Lawyer notes that if the results show a BAC below 0.08%, prosecutors might occasionally introduce evidence regarding retrograde extrapolation of blood alcohol levels to try and convince a jury that you were over the legal limit at the time that you were stopped for DUI.
As previously mentioned however, your BAC level can fluctuate based on a variety of factors at any time after the alcohol has entered your bloodstream. Therefore, retrograde extrapolation is not a reliable tool and should be challenged by an effective Chicago DUI Lawyer with your interests at heart.
Michael Schmiege understands the wide range of factors that can affect your BAC level and BAC test results after you have been stopped on suspicion of DUI. As a Chicago DUI Lawyer concerned with the way BAC test results could inaccurately reflect your actual state while behind the wheel,Michael P. Schmiege will fight to protect your interests.
An Illinois DUI Defense Attorney with solid experience handling DUI cases, Michael P. Schmiege could carefully review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether you had rising blood alcohol or decreasing blood alcohol levels at the time of your test. He knows how to build a successful Rising Alcohol Defense.
Michael Schmiege knows how to challenge a BAC result from a test taken after you were stopped while you were in the rising alcohol phase or at peak BAC level. He knows how unreliable retrograde extrapolation evidence is and will work to convince the jury of its inaccuracy.
Contact experienced Chicago DUI Lawyer Michael P. Schmiege today for a free and confidential legal consultation to discuss your case. He could review the circumstances of your stop and your BAC test with you, and help you understand your available defenses. Call today.
NOT GUILTY – Possession of a Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Deliver
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol – NOT GUILTY
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